Prioritizing network management

Citing the mantra, “any downtime equals lost productivity”, it can be argued IT organizations are acutely aware of the critical need of monitoring their networks and Web sites. Recognizing that it is becoming increasingly cost-prohibitive for organizations to do this in-house, Mississauga Ont.-based Aurora Network Technologies recently released Priority Alert, a Web-based, network and Web site monitoring tool that is available through Canadian resellers.

Aurora, an IT consulting and software firm whose services consist of network monitoring, strategic planning, and post-support, contends the non-intrusive technology can reduce network downtime by 65 per cent.

Priority Alert monitors Internet, intranet servers, and e-commerce sites to the device-level 24×7, the company said. The tool tests custom transactions such as financial, authentication, and DNS services and automatically notifies the proper resources (router, switch, server) of potential problems.

Aurora Network Technologies president Murray Keller added the toolset uses the industry standard SNMP (simple network manager protocol) and quickly identifies to clients any failures or critical conditions within 15 minutes.

“One of the first priorities in making the product was to make it usable by the people that are going to be in the field,” Keller said. “Whether you are a great big multinational company or a small shop with only a few people in it, you’ve got to have (network infrastructure) available to your business, otherwise your business is not moving forward.”

Aurora chairman and CEO Stewart Davis said the technology allows companies to monitor networks and Web sites on a pay-as-you-go basis with no up front investment. As the tool is a Web-based interface, no agents need to be installed at the client base, and Davis also noted that Priority Alert requires little training: “This is a tool set where as long as you know the address of the device that you want monitored and who you want to fix or address the problem, that’s all you need to set it up…This tool allows you to pay as you go vs. having to pay a huge amount of dollars up front.”

Brian Madill, director, telecommunications and corporate systems for manufacturer CCL Industries in Toronto, said Aurora currently monitors CCL’s domestic and international WAN and Exchange servers, something that would not be cost-effective to do in-house. Priority Alert has helped CCL increase network infrastructure availability by identifying problems quickly, Madill added.

“A lot of our manufacturer facilities are operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We run a lot of the manufacturing and data collection, so if any of those links goes down, we have the possibility of lines going down and shipments being stopped, so Priority Alert is very critical to us. They do the monitoring on each of the links, (and) if they see that there is an outage on one of the sites they will go through a process to determine the type of problem…and then they monitor and follow up until it’s back up,” Madill said.

“Say you’ve got an e-commerce site that is accessed 24×7. If that site goes down for whatever reason, you can potentially lose business,” said Michelle Warren, an analyst at Evans Research Corp. (ERC) in Toronto. “In a situation such as that you want your Web site up and you would like to be notified whether or not your Web site is down.”

Aurora’s strength is in the reseller channel and the Priority Alert program allows clients to purchase it through a reseller, which is in itself an added relationship-building tool, according to Warren.

Priority Alert is available now. Product pricing is on a monthly basis: $60 per network-level device (i.e. router, switch, hub), $90 per server (including the operating system), $160 per application (including the server it is running on). Aurora Network Technologies can be found at